By Erik Harris, sports editor
PINSON – It was a night to remember for Clay-Chalkville defensive back Kameron Peterson.
The senior was recognized as the school’s homecoming king during a halftime ceremony and later secured the game-sealing interception in the final seconds of a 21-14 victory over Class 7A Oak Mountain.
With the visiting Eagles (6-4) attempting a game-tying drive in the final minute, Peterson dropped deep in coverage and pulled down Evan Smith’s 10th and final pass attempt of the night at Clay-Chalkville’s 1-yard line, turning the ball over to the home team with only 26 seconds remaining. He sprinted back down the Cougars’ sideline in celebration, pointing toward the opposite end zone as if to say, ‘Our ball!’
“That was very exciting,” said Peterson. “Just knowing that we just won the game and the offense could ice it… it was good to do that for the team and seal a great team win.”
The win bumps Clay-Chalkville to nine regular season victories, which represents the sixth time the Cougars have achieved nine or more regular season wins since 2012.
As the 2-seed coming out of Class 6A, Region 6, Clay-Chalkville (9-1) is in line to host Southside-Gadsden (6-3) next Friday in the opening round of the state playoffs.
The seventh-ranked Cougars hope to start a little stronger next week, as they allowed Oak Mountain quarterback Evan Smith to bust free for an 81-yard touchdown run on the first offensive play of the game Thursday night. That long strike put the Eagles out front 7-0 and marked the beginning of a huge night for Smith on the ground.
The shifty QB showed great feel for the option game, leading all rushers with 212 yards and two scores in the loss. He also darted 77 yards to the end zone for a 14-7 advantage early in the second frame.
That would, however, be the only offense Clay-Chalkville allowed on a chilly night in Cougar Stadium. The home team pitched a second half shutout, forced a pair of turnovers and blocked a fourth-quarter field goal to score an intraclass victory over a playoff-bound opponent.
“We had not played a 7A team and knowing that’s the last game before the playoffs, it gives us a lot of hope and momentum going into the postseason,” said Peterson.
Clay-Chalkville found balance on offense, posting 308 yards from scrimmage, including 184 yards rushing.
Junior running back Edward Osley finished with 93 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. He pounded the game-winner through from 2 yards out on the opening drive of the second half. The decisive drive traveled 80 yards in nearly four minutes, as the Cougars converted a third-and-13 on their way to an 11-play scoring march.
Clay-Chalkville quarterback Khalib Johnson brought an end to the first half with a 59-yard touchdown strike to Marquarius White, who won his one-on-one to pull the game even at 14-all.
Cougar running back Lazarius Hinkle tied the game at 7-7 early in the second quarter when he rumbled 14 yards for his only score of the night. Hinkle produced 61 yards and the score on 12 rushes. Johnson went 10-for-20 through the air for 124 yards and a touchdown.
“We felt good up front all night,” said offensive lineman Ahmante Altman. “Going into this week, our main emphasis was to run inside. We’ve got playmakers all around. It’s so much fun to block for these guys, sitting back and watching them break tackles — it’s fun.”